[mythtv-users] recorded shows

Ray Olszewski ray at comarre.com
Sun Jan 4 19:21:17 EST 2004

At 06:24 PM 1/4/2004 -0500, Tom Jaeger wrote:
>My previous mention of the fair use is because it was mentioned as a
>defense for making a copy ... I was saying that it does not apply
>because I/we are not using it for educational purposes.  The supreme
>court was not ruling as to if it was legal for a person to record a TV
>show but they were ruling as to if a company could manufacture a product
>that was made to record a show.
>Please show me a govt link that holds your case not some website that is
>3rd party interpretation to serve their interests.

The link you yourself provided a bit earlier in this discussion, the one 
quoting the full text of the Betamax decision, addresses your concern 
explicitly. It is not a "government link", but unless you want to suggest 
that it is a forgery (and it was *you*, after all, who provided it), I'll 
assume it quotes the Betamax decision correctly. (EFF, though an advocacy 
group, is generally considered reliable in its factual reporting.)

Read Betamax in full to get a complete understanding of what the ruling 
actually says. For now, here are a couple of short excerpts that make me 
think that your interpretation of it (above) is too limited.

"When these factors are all weighed in the "equitable rule of reason" 
balance, we must conclude that this record amply [p.455] supports the 
District Court's conclusion that home time-shifting is fair use. In light 
of the findings of the District Court regarding the state of the empirical 
data, it is clear that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the 
statute as presently written bars such conduct. n40"
"One may search the Copyright Act in vain for any sign that the elected 
representatives of the millions of people who watch television every day 
have made it unlawful to copy a program for later viewing at home, or have 
enacted a flat prohibition against the sale of machines that make such 
copying possible.

"It may well be that Congress will take a fresh look at this new 
technology, just as it so often has examined other innovations in the past. 
But it is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written. 
Applying the copyright statute, as it now reads, to the facts as they have 
been developed in this case, the judgment of the Court of Appeals must be 

While a complete reading of the decision leaves me believing that some 
now-common uses of VCRs and PVRs may fall into a fuzzy ground, it also 
leaves me convinced that the main common uses -- time-shifting and building 
personal libraries (which is just time-shifting for a long time) -- are 
consistent with the language of Betamax. Now like the rest of us here, I am 
not a lawyer, so I would not presume to advise you, on anyone else, about 
what to do in this matter. But I would expect anyone claiming these 
activities -- I'm talking here about recording for personal, non-commercial 
use, not sharing or reselling recordings -- violate US law to point to a 
successful prosecution of anyone for engaging in them, since they are 
widespread and hardly done in secret.

Here in the USA, we don't *need* a government site that says something is 
*legal* for it to be legal. US law is not that Orwellian. It works the 
other way; we need a law, either statute or case law, that says the 
activity is *illegal* for it to be illegal. I don't know of any. Do you? 
(The Nolo site someone referred to talks about fair use in the context of 
education, not all possible fair-use activities. It is simply irrelevent to 
the present discussion, not supportive of either side.)

Consider that after losing against the new breed of P2P software providers, 
copyright owners quickly started suing individuals who (they allege) make 
copyrighted materials available for unauthorized copying. Yet after 
Betamax, no copyright owner (that I know of) even *tried* to sue an 
individual taper. Why not, do you think? Perhaps their lawyers understood 
the Betamax decision to be more broad than you read it to be?

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